Thirty-seven years ago, on another December, Bangladesh became a free State after a nine-month long war of liberation. This December the country faces its most crucial election in years. The country of 140 million Bengalis, just out of two years of emergency rule will elect a government that has to fulfill two elusive promises: stability and good governance.
Whether its Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League (AL) or Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the next government has its task cut out. The Begums have pledged to end corruption and give Bangladesh a new identity in a changing global scenario. Hasina calls her election manifesto ‘a charter for change’ and has detailed her plans for the country for the next two decades. Khaleda Zia, who is heading a four-member alliance, wants to establish an efficient government based on Islamic teachings.
48 candidates from the two main parties who have been charged with corruption are still are contesting. Hasina herself was arrested on charges of extortion while Zia and her elder son were jailed on corruption charges. Voters know these facts too well but have little choice.
There are apprehensions about the role the army is going to play after the new government takes charge. The Brussels-based International Crisis Group has warned that the country’s powerful military may not be ready to bow out of politics just yet.